Shooting 4k with a Smartphone – Does the Galaxy NOTE 3 Stand a Chance Against the 5D Mark III?

by planetMitch11 Comments

Alec Weinstein who is a Broadcast Camera Operator/Video Producer sent us this guest post and a very interesting comparison of video shot with a Canon EOS 5D Mark III up against the 4k video shot by a cellphone!

Barry Andersson has been telling me for months that we’d all better watch out for the smart phones, but there are still plenty of reasons to use DSLRs right?

Of course, there are caveats about how this was shot (and you can see that Alec has mentioned them in his piece) – and some other things he didn’t mention (like sensor size and the fact that you can’t change lenses on the smartphone) but we had all better be aware of how things are changing.

What do you think? Is the Galaxy 3 video significantly good or is the Canon EOS 5D Mark III still king?

Galaxy NOTE 3 versus 5D Mark III – 4K in a cell phone!

From Alec Weinstein:

If you are anything like me you make at least a loose attempt at following emerging camera technology. The race for high fps, higher resolutions, greater latitude, bigger sensors, faster lenses… sometimes it seems a bit much; but fun to follow and dream about none the less. Sites like Planet5D and others like it make following the camera arms race easier than it has ever been, serving up a daily dose of need to know info, yet somehow I managed to miss a startling release of disruptive technology in the video camera realm. Your cell phone can now shoot 4K video.

It sounds like a gimmick. I was fast to dismiss the idea as some glitzed-up over-sharpened nightmare selling itself as high resolution- but that didn't stop me from diving at my keyboard in a scramble to witness for myself the reality of 4K from a cell phone. After plowing through the few videos I could find I was left with one inescapable feeling- Holy S@!& it looks amazing… I need one of these phones right now! Which is exactly what happened.

We all know the legacy of the 5D franchise. I own the 5D mark III and use it on a very regular basis in the professional realm. Lets face it, no matter what some may say, the 5D kicks ass. But it can also be said that the 5D series of cameras has always had a fairly soft, should I say… low resolution, look to it. But even so there is no way a cell phone would look better, right?

This video represents a quick- not robust- daylight test of the Samsung Galaxy Note 3 versus the Canon 5D3. As with any test there are decisions that have to be made to try to make it a fair test so here is a breakdown of how the test is designed.

The Galaxy Note 3 currently only shoots in Auto Mode when shooting 4K. Other popular camera apps don't yet seem to support the 4K resolution so we can't lock the exposure controls. With that being the case I decided to shoot the 5D3 with the best quality settings I could and try to match the look of the Note footage in post in terms of contrast, saturation, sharpening, color temp, and exposure. I shot the 5D3 footage Neutral, flat style (no sharpening, no contrast, half saturation). Once in the edit bay I tweaked the contrast, saturation, exposure, color temp, and sharpening (unsharp mask) to match the Note 3 footage.

The test yields an exciting result. But there is a part of me that is sad. It is a kind of sadness one might feel when a great player plays on past their prime. Sure, it is great to see them play, but it isn't like when they were on top, and it is only a matter of time before they retire all together. Sure the 5D still dominates in terms of latitude, and its encoding options are better, and low light performance is not even comparable… but even with all the advantages of the 5D3, the image that the Galaxy Note is producing is in many cases- better. There, I said it.

Check out more videos on Alex's Youtube Channel

(cover photo credit: snap from the video)


chief astronomer at planet5D LLC
Mitch "planetMitch" Aunger is the creator and mastermind behind

He's incredibly happy running planet5D and sharing so much joy of photography and filmmaking with his readers.


  1. This is big shock for me, i think Canon has great video quality, but this comparison with Note 3 – wow, i dont think it has such great optics.

  2. Great article! I don’t like Samisung products, but in this case (4k video recording) it really shines!

  3. Yep, Canon, there ya go… big fail of Canon not to introduce any ‘better’ camera out there… they focus to much on marketing, protecting their own ‘C’ line, and forgetting that most of the world carries on. 
    DSLR is becoming a photocamera again, and DSLR video is dead. If the new 5D or whatever does not have 4k, 100-200Mbps, focuspeaking, and all those other video stuff the current models have (see Panasonic, see Sony)… they loose the video market. 
    This Galaxy Note will not be a ‘thread’, but the Sony A7S and the Panasonic GH4 are. If the normal videocamera’s also go 4K and have higher bitrates,… DSLr are a relic of the video past… perhaps only used if extremely narrow DoF’s are required, but for the normal video shooting, they are lumbersome, a pain in the ass to work with, and the quality isn’t that great anymore. 

    I was using my 5D for video, but mainly RAW … the quality of that is mindblowing, but the ‘native’ video, is already surpassed by example the Panasonic GH2… 
    STill, it’s a good thing that phones and tablets are getting better at this… means you don’t have to have a bulky camera with ya all the time. :)  I am curious though, how this Samsung ‘copes’ with the massive 4K.. you can’t watch it back as far as I understood, and… seeing that the micro cards aren’t that good…. curious..

  4. Thanks for this – wonderful side-by-side comparisons, and does a great job showcasing the detail the Note 3 does capture. I had a free day in Hong Kong in January, and did some testing of my own of the Note 3, and was pretty blown away. Shooting 4k and downscaling to 1080p results in some amazing high-quality 1080p footage. And the file sizes for 4k capture are kept relatively small due to the aggressive H.264 compression.

    You can watch the 4k back on the phone, but the screen is ‘only’ 1080p. It has real-time pinch-zooming, however, so you can zoom and pan while watching playback. 

    One thing about it that prevents me using it in more situations – the rolling shutter (jellocam effect) when panning left-right (or trying to shoot handheld) is horrific. I could never shoot sports with this.  Not a camera for every situation, but a small clamp and tripod stabilizes it really nice. And, with a 4k source, you can do some smooth pans in post.

  5. Mr Alec Weinstein this comparison is just ridiculous…!
    You dare to compare 5d3 with a smartphone?
    OMG what else will we hear… and you say that you are a Broadcast Camera Operator/Video Producer! Shame on YOU!
    1st of all everybody knows that 4k is 4 times more resolution against 1080p which means that when you downscale 4k to 1080p you will get much better resolution. Still this says nothing when you use a shitty lens such as Sigma 24-70 and I don’t think you want us to believe that you tried to use the best settings of the 5d3 to get this result..! 2nd 5d3 has ML which can shoot raw video and ofc can produce much better detail and colour and saturation and sharpening against Samsung Note 3 4k very easily. 3rd myself and thousands of ppl have shot footage of flowers, landscapes and nature and if you just search on vimeo and youtube you can find much better quality videos than yours you dare to compare against a smartphone.. which means or you trying to fool us all here or you a completely idiot! When the time will come after a couple of years that smartphones will be able to shoot better than today’s Dslrs then the DSLRS will have Raw and 4k video and video quality ready for Cinema productions! This is the most stupid comparison I have ever seen..!

  6. I appreciate the rough comparison between the two technologies & agree that the market is about to again see a huge change. At least access to quality gear will.
    I hate to admit it but I had a media card fail after shooting & before duplication. We had struck & moved on. I mount my Htc One on my camera to record notes for editing & quick reference dailies. I had to use the video from the phone and with a touch more post processing no one knew. Actually had someone mention the “extraordinary color & shadows blah blah” in that :38sec shot.
    I learned two things, 1. better workflow & backup 2. camera quality is no longer bound to high price.
    Had a famous DP tell me he uses Go Pros 50% more than he credits in big action movies & now dramas. Runs a gopro on each camera as backup & often uses that footage. Told me about another huge feature was sponsored by a big cine camera company but shot all it’s outdoor scenes (65% of movie) on Sony Nex-7s (with kit lenses)and had to recode the metadata before sending it to post.
    The most popular rental in LA is modified GoPros to fit external lenses. At thousands a day it isn’t for vacations.
    We will probably never see cellphone footage in features but it makes me happy to think what kind of cheap but awesome video camera I can get in 5 years. Red Epic in a matchbox please for $600.
    Also shows how important post processing is going to become & access to those 4k tools.

  7. Great test, maybe you can make a test in low light and panning the cameras.

    I’m a happy user of Note3 and Mk2

  8. JasonVu1  me myself I ended up getting a tri and monopod, I attach it with a unigrip pro and use a rode go mic. I also got a triple hot shoe connection for the unigrip for the mic and 2 LED lights. not a bad set up for making short movies and youtube vid’s.

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